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How to Cut Back a Rose Bush

By Callie Barber ; Updated September 21, 2017

Rose bushes, a perennial and aromatic plant, create dramatic gardens and romantic bouquets. Available in a variety of shapes and colors, rose bushes will give a gardener a lifetime of enjoyment. Maintaining a healthy and hardy bush is simple with the right “ingredients”. Always using sharp and clean pruning shears while taking your time to go over the entire rose bush with care and attention to detail. Pruning the rose bush is essential in keeping these beautiful bloomers happy.

Wait until your roses have undergone a frost and lost most of their leaves. Roses don’t undergo a full dormancy but they wind down to a slow-growth mode, the ideal time to begin the pruning process.

Remove all debris such as grass and leaves around the plant base. Insects and disease lurk within this environment so it’s essential to remove all debris to keep them down to a minimum.

Cut all dead wood and stems that are diseased and damaged by removing the entire branch. Remove all old and twisted branches. Open up the rose bush by removing all the branches that cross over the main center stem.

Prune all thin and weak branches to free up nutrients for the main stem and allow more light to pass through. Remove all branches that cross each other and rub together.

Remove any green saplings that grow off the main branch. Cut away all suckers, or shoots that sprout up from the root area, as soon as they are noticeable.

Cut above the leaf bud that points toward the outside of the rose bush. Prune to a healthy bud and make sure the cut is at a 45-degree angle. Use sharp pruning shears to prevent ragged cuts and to decrease the susceptibility of the rose bush becoming infected with disease.

Prune back the remaining stems to one-third their length. Paint all cuts with a sealing compound to prevent diseases and insects from damaging the plant.


Things You Will Need

  • Pruning shears
  • Sealing compound


  • Use methanol to sterilize pruning shears in between cuts to prevent spreading plant diseases.


  • Always wear thick and protective garden gloves when working with pruning shears.

About the Author


Callie Barber has been writing professionally since 2002. Barber's love for design and writing inspired her to create Design Your Revolution, a blog that shares creative and affordable ways to decorate indoor and outdoor living environments. Her articles have appeared on Travels.com and GardenGuides.com. Barber holds a Bachelors of Arts in international studies from the University of North Carolina.